Wednesday, August 6, 2008

5 things to watch for

As the Aggies are set to kick off fall practice on Thursday, here are five key elements to look for leading up to the season:

1) Defense: This is a no brainer. If NMSU can hold teams to under 30 points per game, they will win their fair share of games. This is two-fold, because in the Aggies' case, a good offense can make a good defense. Go up by 14, put a team in pass-first mode, and the D will be better. But at the end of the day it comes down to this: Can the defense win a game or two by themselves? You figure the NMSU offense can pocket at least four games if everybody is healthy. The defense will need to step up as well and steal a couple contests if NMSU is serous about being bowl eligible.

2) Kicking game: This will help the defense as well, if Kyle Hughes can boot balls inside 5-yard line on kickoffs. he has the leg to do it, but will he be on the field? Last year his grades were an issue. Here's to hoping that isn't the case again. Today, someone asked Hal Mumme what freshman can make the biggest impact and he replied kicker Jordan Davenport. Apparently, he has a leg that's comparable to Hughes. Either way, whoever's booting that ball needs to do a better job than what the team has done in the past. This area has been a mess and must be corrected. But I feel if Hughes is on the field, people will be impressed.

3) Offensive line: Losing two players like Mike Martinez and James Farrelly will make an impact at both offensive tackle positions but the question becomes, how big of an impact? The team has two solid leaders on the line with center Richie Bolin and guard Polo Guitierrez. Starting tackles remain a question but that's what camp is for. This unit needs to come together and keep Chase Holbrook standing and throwing the ball downfield. For me, this is a position that could make or break this team. They have to protect Chase and let the passing game fly if the team hopes to be successful.

4) Overall team health: Holbrook needs to stay healthy, but don't underestimate the players around him. On the line, the receivers, led by Chris Williams, the running backs. Defense too, which is extremely thin. Any losses at any position along the defense and it will be felt throughout the entire team. Last season saw injuries mount, making most weeks a lost cause all together. I know some people are tired of hearing about it but there is no denying how things played out. Winning without your best players is tough, really tough. The impact Aggies need to stay on the field.

5) Mumme's job security: Again, this is impossible to ignore. Hal's record in Las Cruces has not been good. 8-29 to be exact, with four of those wins coming against 1-AA teams. Just one on the road. He has to win. It's not a knock. It's a fact, as Division-1 sports are a bottom line business. He will feel the heat if the team is floundering by midseason. Last year the reality was this: Things were going well, all things considered, until the Aggies went to Boise and got roasted. Injuries hit and things just weren't the same. Points won't be a problem but the defense and kicking game need to improve. If they do, the Aggies can get six wins. That's not out of the question at all. But it has to happen. Otherwise, things could fall apart.

No denying that this is a big year for NMSU football. But lets enjoy it. Practice is here and it's a time to be excited. Hope to see you out there.



Anonymous said...

Chase getting hurt against APB is where the down turn started. He should have never played against Boise and would have been in better health going on in WAC play. JJ got some great experience, but the team last season was needing Chase healthy. The defense this year will win atleast 3 games on their own that they didn't do last season. The defense should be able to surprise some people like the offense did 2 seasons ago.
Why can't Hughes make his grades? If he is ineligible this season, don't look for him to be around after the semester ends.
The team will be much more balanced this season with the RB position becoming filled. Can you keep us up to speed as that progresses. I think that is the most vital key to the success of Chase and co. Also the depth at center if injury happens could cause concern

Go Aggies

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem your month vacation helped in your attitude toward the Aggies. You are so negative it might as well be an Albuqerque paper.

Anonymous said...

I don't see this as being negative, just realistic. Except about Kyle Hughes. Those unfounded statements could have been left out of the post. Don't speculate, just ask, you are a reporter, que no?

Anonymous said...

I like your list, with one exception. I'd replace number 5 with the same point made by the first anon - rushing offense. With the pass-first and often oriented offense Mumme runs, NMSU will never average a respectable rushing total. But yards per rush will be a key stat to watch. If successful (something greater than 4-5 ypc), it will keep certain defensive players guessing and allow Chase more time to get off the pass.

As for the defense, I sure hope JLD knows what he's doing. He is a former D-I football coach whose most recent coaching experience is in HS. That's a red flag to me. Guess we'll find out soon enough. Go Aggies!

Aggie Glare

ShowLow said...

There is always an optimism for football season every year and every year by mid October they are basically dashed. The only thing that Mumme has proven since being at NMSU is he is a very inconsistent coach. He doesn't give a rats about defense or special teams. Frankly NMSU is a good way to make a little money and then after he is fired after this season he can go back to 1-AA coaching or something and have a nice savings account from the money he got here, plus the buyout because McKinley Boston actually gave him a year extension. I had hopes when Mumme was hired but as it has turned out this has become the second worst football coach hire in the history of NMSU...the first being Mike Knoll.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to chill out, be an Aggie fan and stop arm chair quarterbacking. Can't we have a year where just support ouir team and not pick it apart every single day?

Mumme does need to get it all put together this year so we can once and for all have a football season we can all be proud of.

Teddy; you write about Mumme keeping his job. Did you forget about the contract extension he received last year? NMSU will not buy out that year and hire a new coach. Word around the department is, Bostong is telling all coaches to cut back and not spend money this year. The budgets have finally hit the end of the road, as far as growth goes but we still aren't at the level of the other good WAC schools. Why else do you think Menzies is taking his mens hoop squad to Kansas for a $80,000 pay day? Our athletic department is in serious financial chaos. So, Mumme will be here.

Our football team, if they stay healthy, take care of their books and stay together will have a fun year.

Anonymous said...

Having a fun year? Well nothing is more fun than winning, something Mumme can't seam to get a handle on.
We will see if this another year of excuses or wins. I'd bet on excuses!

Anonymous said...

Your comments and the picture of your Pussy cat say a lot about you?!

We are poised for a special season.
"Saddle up" the FB team is taking us on a heck of a ride!!!

El Hombre

Dan said...

In the 5 points made ( all of them great)there should be a 6th.

#6.Team Attutude (COULD ARGUE IT SHOULD BE #1)

Bosie, San Jose St . and OMG Utah State. TOTAL ASS KICKINGS.

I guess players take no responsibilty in losing only winning?

Anonymous said...

Dan, where have you see one player quoted as being happy about those 3 losses? these kids hate losing more than you or I do, they are the ones busting their ass in the weight room and running all summer to try and get your respect. I would love for one of you to show me one player happy about the past 3 seasons. Not one, they are excited about the freshness of this season and the effort they have put in to be better. Stop the negativity beofre the season even starts. it really gets old. Give them a chance to win you over, if you hate Mumme, ok but these kids are giving everything they have to make a better showing for NMSU and fans.
Give them a chance, that's all they are asking.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I don't know what your problem is, but I think you have some deep rooted felings against athletes. I watched all the games and didn't see one single player sprinting happily off field after a loss. You should try their workouts in the hot summer days and then tell us if you would go through this grueling exercise if you didn't hope to win. They blame themselves for the losses way more than you armchair coaches do. Wait till season gets underway and then do your critique.